Canada experienced brutally snowy and cold weather this past winter season. For the first time since winter, all of that has begun to change. Several regions in Canada are experiencing spring-like, and even summer-like, weather this week with warm temperatures of 20°C. However, this has led to an increased risk of avalanches. A special avalanche warning has now been issued today for several parts of Canada, due to the warm weather.
Avalanche Canada, partnered with Parks Canada and Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, has issued a "Special Public Avalanche Warning" today on Monday, March 18. The warning is effective immediately and affects several regions in Canada. "The warning is widespread and applies to all the forecast regions in western Canada," says Avalanche Canada in their warning.
So what is the reason for this sudden, widespread avalanche warning for western Canada? It's all due to the dramatic warm weather change taking place.
Furthermore, with more people visiting the mountains as temperatures become more favourable, this leads to an even higher risk. "This dramatic temperature increase will increase the likelihood of avalanches throughout the mountains. At the same time, with the warm weather and BC’s spring break, we expect to see more people heading into the mountains," Avalanche Canada warns.
Check out a video of how intense an avalanche can be below.
Many popular trails for hiking or snowshoeing on the mountains are actually at risk of being exposed to avalanches but people might not realize this, explains Avalanche Canada.
On top of this, many out of bound ski areas are also prone to avalanches. So make sure to check in advance on Avalanche Canada's website and check the map of the areas affected by this warning to ensure you are exploring a safe area.
Large avalanches are very much possible during the current weather conditions. "This is the first big warming to hit our snowpack, which is still fairly complex and winter-like," says Senior Avalanche Forecaster Grant Helgeson.
"Any time the snowpack is hit with a big change, it tends to de-stabilize. This will weaken the snowpack on all aspects, increasing the possibility of large natural avalanches as well making it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper weak layers."
Avalanche Canada recommends that hikers and skiers to plan well in advance before heading into the mountains to ensure your route is not affected by the avalanche warning. For more information, you can visit their website.